Thoughts about gratitude

Gratitude has become one of those buzzwords we hear a lot.  If we wait for it to come over us like happiness or sadness, we may wait a long time. But if we practice gratitude daily, not just on Thanksgiving, it will be more readily available to us. I like to think of gratitude like savoring. We all get what it feels like to savor a delicious piece of pie. If we take the time to really savor it, to take those moments to let the pie linger in our mouth, to chew our bites slowly, that is the experience of gratitude. It is NOTICING all the aspects of the pie we like…the smell, the taste, the texture. Last night I sat with my children (almost all my children) and savored each of them as they spoke. I gave silent thanks that they were smiling, present, enjoying, and thriving. I gave additional thanks for their health, for the contribution each of them makes to the family, for their humor and for their beauty. As we ate, I noticed that we had a begging dog under the table, who was not only begging but was passing gas (all traits so not welcome during meals), and then the thought occurred to me how much we will miss having her there when she is gone. I looked at her pathetic but adorable face….begging….hoping for one of us to drop a ravioli or some meat sauce her way and I smiled, smiled with gratitude for our loyal dog who shows us so much unconditional love.

We always have a choice about how we look at the events and people in our lives and we can ALWAYS find something to be grateful for, even amidst painful and unwanted situations. My sister has been undergoing chemotherapy. She lives in Washington DC but came up  to New York to be around her 4 sisters and mother while she receives treatment for lung cancer. Cancer sucks but having my sister here in New York is a gift! I have been grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with her and have a different relationship than I have had in the past. We have become closer as a result of cancer and we are both grateful!

Today, on this national holiday set aside to celebrate gratitude and family and friends, I hope you can find something to be grateful for. I wish for each and every person reading this that they will NOTICE the gifts that show up, even those disguised as hardships! Happy Thanksgiving!

Parenting

Parenting has been called a rewarding job, a thankless job, the worst-paid job, and the most challenging job on the planet. This job of parenting has no special training, yet we are so motivated to succeed. Sometimes, we feel at a loss. Instead of a boss giving a review of our job performance, we parents judge our own performance and we do so quite harshly. Our children can also give us some bad reviews. Spouses can point the finger at us as well. We compare ourselves to others, others who appear to have it all under control. THEIR kid is captain of the team, on the honor roll and never disobeys. Sound familiar?

I have been a mom for almost 33 years to 4 amazing human beings. I say that with the utmost humility. I do not take credit for their amazingness. I took my hits as a parent. I have had rough patches for sure. I made huge mistakes. I beat myself up for those mistakes. That has all brought me on a path to finding a better way, a way of acceptance, compassion and truth.The truth is that our children are human beings that we have the honor to share a life with for a short period of time and much of what happens during that period of time is not within our control. I have become passionate about helping other parents with the challenges of parenting. It can be isolating, scary, and daunting. But once you find acceptance and self-compassion, and let go of comparisons, the joy that accompanies parenting will return. This is a form of awakening, becoming a more conscious parent. It takes new habits, new skills and practice. But it can be done. If you want to learn a different way of parenting, parenting from the inside out in a demanding world, please check out the workshops I am offering:Parenting from the Inside Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intentions for 2016

This is my first post in 2015 and I figured I would get it in at the 11th hour, typical of my life’s patterns. That is something I am looking at, that pattern of the last minute, the 11th hour, but I will look at it later….I have other things to do right now, like write my thoughts down for 2016.

Christmas is always a time for me to look at the past year and think about life, think about the people who are no longer in our life. Christmas Eve was spent with all 4 of my children and some of my favorite people in the world. I cherished each moment at the table, watching my sons banter about what order to watch the first 6 Star Wars movies. As I sat there adoring the faces of my children, I thought of my husband’s old friend who lost a son this year. I thought of her and her pain this Christmas missing the face of her son. Life is precious. We know it but we walk around forgetting it all the time. We are busy with our to-do lists and stressed to find the perfect gift; we forget the loaf of Italian bread that we wanted to serve with dinner, we are annoyed that the manicure we spent an hour  out of our busy day was ruined while we were making meatballs. We worry that we hadn’t bought enough for everyone. Really? But then I notice the negative emotion and I take a breath, and I re-focus. That is what it is all about….FOCUS. What am I focusing on? The good? The bad? The beautiful or the ugly? The blessings or the challenges? It is our choice….always. That is where our power is….in that choice. Let me not forget this simple fact.

Christmas day at my sisters’ house was a blessed day spent with all my siblings and my parents. (When I say that I am blessed, it is not because it is all Norman Rockwell worthy! We have our moments that are ugly. I just don’t post them on Facebook or write about them in my blog. But, it goes without saying. All families have their blemishes and mine is no different. But I have learned to take the good with the bad and embrace it all.) However, I am keenly aware how blessed I am to have reached this age with my family totally intact. I have high hopes that I, too, will live to see grandchildren and possibly great- grandchildren, like my parents have. But, tomorrow is not promised to me. So, there are some things I want to say just in case.  I truly believe that our life force is fueled by desires. I have some strong desires but try to live without strong expectations. That is where the balancing act comes in. I manage that balancing act by my faith that the Universe is always conspiring for my benefit. So that no matter what happens, and however blind I may be to the possible benefits an event could have, I manage to trust that the Universe (or God) knows better than me and that this event will serve my highest good and the evolution of humankind as a whole. For example, my youngest daughter recently went through something that rocked her world somewhat. I was in pain because she was in pain. However, since I believe that the Universe is always conspiring for our benefit, I trusted that what my daughter was going through, that one day we would look back at this circumstance and be grateful for it. So, I decided after meditating this morning, why not be grateful for it now. Why wait to understand it?  This thought was my main inspiration  for my intentions for the New Year……

My top five Intentions for 2016:

  1. Be Grateful for everything! I intend to trust the Universe with everything that comes my way. The gratitude may not be immediate. Let’s face it, I am human…..but gratitude is the goal. When we appreciate, we stay in the vibration that allows the manifestation of all our desires.
  2. Practice Kindness! Yes, like the Dalai Lama, Kindness is my religion.  It is not easy to practice this 100% of the time but when I keep it at the forefront of my mind daily, it is easier. It is a habit, like any other and with practice, gets easier and easier. One method that keeps me on the right track is the practice of Loving-kindness meditation which I do regularly.  I have learned that it is better to be kind than to be right. (And I love being right!) I am sharing a link to the meditation that helps me be kinder, in case anyone is interested the link to the meditation is on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/WellBeingLifeCoach/
  3. Practice Mindfulness each day and all day long! I have become a Mindfulness practitioner. Mindfulness, according to one definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.” I used to live my life pondering the past with regret or worrying about the future with anxiety. I can still go to those two places, but mindfulness directs me back to paying attention to the here and now and noticing that without judgment. It is the game-changer. It is the stress-buster. It is my life’s work.
  4. Look at the world through the filter of LOVE! I can see any situation  through one of 2 filters, the LOVE filter or the FEAR filter.  I was conditioned to look through the fear filter which tells us that there are only so many pieces of the pie, that you can’t trust people, and that money doesn’t grow on trees.  I was raised by Murphy’s Law:  “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Now I am a practitioner of a different Law, the Law of Attraction which basically says “I am the Creator of my own reality.” and “The more I love, the more love is returned to me.” If you are feeling unloved, start choosing the LOVE filter and start with yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have. My goal is that each and every person I encounter will feel the LOVE. That is what I want to be remembered for on this earth. That will be enough.
  5. STOP! Whenever a negative emotion has me in its grip, I intend to practice the mini-meditation of STOP: Stop, Take a breath, or two or three, Observe what is going on in my thoughts and in the present moment, and Proceed. Proceed with the above four intentions: gratitude, kindness, mindfulness and LOVE. There will be multiple opportunities each and every day for the rest of my life to practice this mini-meditation called STOP! This is the pause button when the Panic button is activated. This is where our power is….the power to pause and choose something other than our default mode which is driven by FEAR.

I am wishing each and every one of you a healthy, happy new year! May your desires be fueled with belief  that the outcome will always be in your favor. May you be happy, joyous and free! May there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me!

What are your intentions, dreams and goals for 2016?  Please share with us in the comment section below.

 

 

Heaven on Earth

The Holidays are in full swing. The dead of winter is upon us. The Holiday season tends to contain all that life has to offer…. celebration, family, friends, hope, joy and stress. For some, it is a time that highlights what we feel is missing in our life. We used to look at celebrities in magazines and thought they had it all. Now, we have social media and think our neighbors seem to have it all. But, in truth, life carries with it the good, the bad and the ugly, for EVERYONE! I try to live an authentic life, but I don’t post my darkest moments on Facebook! You all get to see the happy ones and yes, there are plenty of happy ones. But, the dark ones exist as well; they are just not eligible for publishing. LOL!

Looking back at the year that has gone by, this is what is true for me. I started out 2014 sadly mourning a cousin who died. We joyfully welcomed Conor Patrick into our family this summer. I started school which has been inspiring and literally has breathed new life into me. My sister Eileen and I held our first retreat…and felt the sweetness of success. I celebrated plenty of milestones: my husband and I are married 15 years. My children turned 10, 25, 27 and 31. My mother and father turned 80 and 81, respectively. I am somewhere in between… not telling! My age does not matter though; what matters is how awakened I am.

This was a year of great awakening for me. I am realizing that this life on earth that I am living right now is the BIG EVENT. It is not a test to show our worthiness for a happy everlasting life. I believe we are eternal beings, but I also believe Heaven is on Earth. The only hell I believe in is the one we create in our own minds. It’s called judgment and it is driven by fear. We are either judging ourselves or judging others. This prevents us from living an awakened life. Let this be the season of love, not judgment.

Here are some tips for creating Heaven on Earth during this Holiday Season:
• The most precious gift any day of the year is your presence, not your presents. Don’t go into debt just so that you look good! But if your budget can handle it, be as generous as the spirit inspires you to be!
• If you didn’t get around to your Holiday cards, send kind thoughts, beginning with yourself! Give someone you are thinking about a call. It may be just what they need and it will lift you up as well.
• Be Mindful of excessive eating and drinking. These are ways to numb out for some of us, not necessarily means of celebrating. Take notice when you are crossing that line!
• If you are alone: VOLUNTEER! There are so many opportunities to help those who are hungry, alone or sick and suffering. When we do for others, we remain connected to the ALL.
• Suit up and show up! When you isolate, you deprive others of your uniqueness, that space only you can fill.
• Connect with Mother Earth. Bundle up and go for a walk. Look at the naked trees, the winter sky, and the occasional squirrel scampering around with last minute treasures to hide away for the long winter ahead.
• Practice gratitude. Every moment appreciated is an awakened moment.
• Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! Take time to breathe. This may seem foolish, or obvious, or downright unnecessary. We all breathe until the time we die. Duh! But I am talking about taking time each day, even if it’s only 5 minutes at a time to just focus on your breathing. Let the thoughts go by like the clouds in the sky. Give your mind a vacation!
• Forgive yourself and others for not making the mark. Everyone is doing the best they can do, given the resources at their disposal.
• Love, LOVE, LOVE! All you need is Love. The Beatles had it right almost half a century ago!

Happy Holidays and May you experience Heaven on Earth in the New Year!

Out of Darkness Comes the Light

Healthy Vibes for Healthy Lives

Yesterday I awoke to a heaviness in the air. I had been tossing and turning for hours until it was finally time to get out of bed. I didn’t think much of it, but I knew that my energy was a bit off. It wasn’t until I reached for my phone that I realized what was going on. It was September 11th. And it seemed the somber energy of that tragic day had returned to me once again.

I went onto Facebook to perhaps write something meaningful, something thoughtful about how we’ll always remember, never forget. But as I quickly scrolled through my news feed, I saw posts one after another already doing just that. At first glance, seeing all of these posts made me sad. The pictures of the twin towers and the American flag reminded me of the tragedy we all felt and experienced that fateful day, 13 years ago. I was sad for all of the lives…

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Seeking Truth

It has been a long time since I have posted. Thankfully, I have been distracted from writing not because of sickness or disasters of any kind, but because of pursuing some dreams. I am back in school after 33 years! The only reason I ended up back in school is because I chose to listen to my heart and not my head.

I have wanted to get my master’s degree for about 20 years now. But 20 years ago, I was swept up by life happening to me, trying to stay afloat in what felt like a tsunami at times and being happy with just surviving. Since that time, I have had a spiritual awakening and have been on a different kind of path. I believe I am the creator of my reality. Today, if my life feels like a tsunami, I KNOW it is just a reflection of my inner world.  I am grateful to KNOW this. I don’t always live it but at least I KNOW it and that is huge. Knowing this allows me to no longer be a victim to my circumstances. One of my practices for living a deliberate life, is to start each day with a stated intention.  An example of this is “Universe, I intend to help others create purposeful, happy, healthy lives. Please bring me the tools and show me the pathway to live this intention.” Then I acknowledge that this request has been granted even though I may not have received it and I say “Thank YOU!” It is like ordering something in a catalog and you give your order and your billing and shipping information and you BELIEVE that you will receive it and you excitedly wait for the delivery.  That is how my intentions work but I never know at what rate I will receive my delivery. I don’t work for the delivery company. My work is in my believing, allowing and taking inspired actions. So, there you have it… the basic blueprint of how I live my life.

In February of this year, an email caught my eye that introduced a new program called “Spirituality Mind Body Summer Intensive” in the clinical psychology department at Columbia University. Since I am a nurse and a Law of Attraction Life Coach, this was definitely something that was right up my alley. My heart was racing with excitement as I read about it; my heart saying to me “This is for you!” I told my husband about it later that day and he validated that it sounded perfect for me and was very supportive of me pursuing this. (BTW, I KNOW I am really lucky to have a husband like that!) However,  I had my own demons to confront–those little “lies” that disguise themselves as “wise words” and they sound like this: “You don’t have the money ”;  “You’re not going to get in”; “You’re not smart enough”; “You are too old”; “You are too busy.”  These “wise words,” the voice of practicality, are the “lies” we have learned to live with that have cut many of us off from living authentic, powerful lives.

Although these little demons, these “lies” showed up, I recognized them as such, and I chose to ignore them.  Instead, I listened to my heart and applied to the program.  I wrote my essay, I got my college transcript from 33 years ago and I waited. My husband shared with a few people that I had applied to school. Not everyone applauds your dreams and encourages you, not because they are ill-intentioned, but they are conditioned with “wise words” of their own. So I heard things like “What is the return on investment of getting your masters at your age?” and “WHAT will you do with THAT degree?” and “Aren’t you TOO busy already?” I have learned not to get too insulted by these kinds of statements and to realize that they are speaking from their own past conditioning.  I can choose to ignore them.  I can seek what is true for me.  So, I decided to wait and see what the Universe has in store for me.

In mid-April, I received the email from Columbia. I was accepted! My heart was racing once again, reading this email. I ran down and told my husband and daughter. My husband did not hesitate in his response “Done deal….you’re going.”  How awesome for him to be so open and supportive.  I, on the other hand, was not that kind and supportive to myself.  All the “wise words,” the practical mind talk came rushing back.  These “wise words” told me all the reasons why I should not pursue this program of study.  I had a month to make a decision. My plan was to meditate on what is “right” for me, to speak with “safe” people and to seek the truth. The next week I was sharing with a women’s support group I belong to about all the things holding me back from accepting: the money, the time commitment, my age. One of the women  who KNOWS me, came up to me after the meeting ended and first stated that she thought the program was absolutely perfect for me and then asked me “if one of your children got into a perfect program for their journey what would you advise them?” and I KNEW my answer in that moment. If I could love myself the way I love my children, I would go to this program that was made specifically for me. I accepted! For 3 weeks this summer I was in school 9 hours a day, Monday through Friday and I loved every minute of it. I KNOW it is my path and this path will open the door for other paths. Where will all these paths lead me? I have no idea, but I KNOW this: the destination is not the point. The journey, every step of it, is what matters….so do what makes your heart race, learn to recognize the “lies,” and love yourself enough to say “yes” to your heart’s desires.  What is fueling your next big decision?